Desygner / Design / Australia

How I created a graphic design tool for non-designers - Story of Desygner

Hello ! Who are you and what are you working on?

I'm Sayan, founder and CTO of Desygner a graphic design app. Over 14 million users use globally to create, print, and share marketing customize incredible graphics on the web, iOS, and Android. Over 15,000 B2B customers use Desygner's B2B platform for team collaboration to create graphics for marketing campaigns while maintaining brand consistency.
Sayan, founder and CTO of Desygner a graphic design app

What motivated you to get started with? How did you come up with the idea?

The founders have run businesses in the past that required rapid design changes to marketing material without destroying brand consistency. To achieve this, one has to either work with professional designers (expensive) or learn complex tools. The founders were motivated to build solutions that would allow anyone to make these changes in minutes at low or zero cost and let team members collaborate to create and edit marketing content while maintaining brand consistency easily.

Can you tell us the story of your business from idea to where you are now?

Desygner started with a small team working from an apartment. As of today, we are a team of 44, with offices in Gold Coast, Australia and Lisbon, Portugal. We are fully bootstrapped and other than some seed stage angel funding, have never raised any venture capital. Over 14 million users and 15,000 B2B customers use Desygner today.

What has been your biggest failure or struggle?

Bootstrapping has its unique challenges, especially when you have competitors who have raised million of dollars from VCs. However, it is also a blessing in disguise as it fosters a great deal of creativity and innovation!

How many hours a day do you work on average & can you describe/outline your typical day? 

I work 9-12 hours a day. I start late and finish late, as we have a team in Portugal as well, and I try to overlap a few hours with them, with exercise and coffee breaks in between!

And what has been your biggest achievement or success?

I don't think there is one particular achievement that can be classified as the biggest. I'll list a few - onboarding large enterprise customers, growing the team and revenue consistently, winning the UK Tech Rocketship award, opening an office in Europe, launching the world's first true cross-platform PDF editor, launching the ability to order designs made on our platform for printing - they're all important milestones on our journey!

Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?

We have been fortunate enough to have an awesome team! The key drivers for growth have been a strong focus on the product and a close-knit cross-functional team where product management, development, QA, customer support, marketing, UX, etc. work very closely with each other.

Describe the process of launching the business.

We went live with the B2C component on the web first and then subsequently introduced the iOS app, the Android app, pricing models, and finally the B2B component

Did you use Betalist or PH or other Startup Launching Platform for Launching ? How was that experience ?

We used Product Hunt . It did help us get some early traction.

What’s your business model, and how have you grown your revenue?

1. Enterprise sales
2. B2B - based on number of users or usage per user, or a hybrid model
3. B2C - subscriptions, one-off in-app purchases including premium high quality stock images and icons from our partner Shutterstock and curated premium templates
4. Printing - ability to design and order delivery of printed material directly from design editor
5. Design services

What are the biggest challenges you’ve faced and obstacles you’ve overcome? What are your goals for the future?

Every business in the world needs to create and manage visual content. Desygner com will own the market that allows anyone to import content from anywhere, and let users personalize and manage in seconds with intelligent design automation.
After expanding the account of the largest franchise in the United States to over 100 thousand users whilst exponentially increasing our prosumers base by 6 million in just 12 months, we have now proved to ourselves that we can serve all market segments with our unique solutions that gets the job done.
Our mission is to be the creative engine for 1 million businesses and 10 million active prosumers by 2022.

Let’s talk about your marketing strategy -- how do you market Desynger and grow the service?

Thankfully, we have a strong "word of mouth" component of our growth. Other than that, we use social media graphics,social media posts, blogs, SEO, email marketing, etc.

Do you have a model to get product feedback? What’s your favorite way to get product feedback? Did product feedback help you get the results you hoped for ? 

We work very closely with our B2B customers. For B2C, we have an excellent customer support team that goes through all customer queries, which helps us iterate and improve the product regularly.

Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?

I come from a tech background myself, but entrepreneurship has taught me a bit of everything - finance, HR, law, product management, sales, marketing - it's a long list!

What platform/tools do you use for your business?

Slack - every day, multiple times a day!

What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?

Podcasts - Masters Of Scale, Startups For The Rest Of Us, The SaaS Podcast
Books - Hooked, The Manager's Path, The Innovator's Dilemma

What’s your advice for fellow aspiring entrepreneur who are just starting out?

There are no textbooks or university courses that can help you build and scale a tech startup. You just need to start, get your hands dirty and learn along the way. Just get started, ship early, ship often, learn, and iterate!
About The Author : Binu Mathew

Binu Mathew is the CEO of itmarkerz technologies. It has been catering to the custom software needs of SMEs in India and abroad since March 2011. Binu started his programming and freelance carrier at the age of 17. over around 13 years of experience in startups, startup visas around the globe, and Blogging. You can reach him on Twitter or LinkedIn